Claiming Homeowner’s Insurance if My Chimney Leaked
Standing alone, above your home, your chimney is especially vulnerable. Harsh winds, lightning, and falling tree branches can seriously damage your chimney causing a leak. Natural wear and tear on chimney components—such as the flashing, chimney cap and crown—can also allow water to get into your house through the chimney. Whether or not your homeowner’s insurance will cover water damage caused by a chimney leak usually depends on the cause of the leak.
Homeowner’s insurance only covers damage to your property that was caused by a sudden, unforeseen event such as wind damage, a lightning strike, a fire or a flash flood. It does not cover damage that is the result of normal wear and tear, negligence or poor maintenance. To make a successful claim, you must provide evidence that the damage to your chimney, which resulted in the leak, was caused by such an event. Your insurance company will deny your claim if they conclude that the leak was caused by neglect, poor maintenance or the ravages of time.
How do I build the case?
The first step in building a strong case for your insurance company is hiring an experienced, professional chimney specialist to inspect your chimney. At the end of the inspection, they should give you a report that includes full details about the extent of the leak, a diagnosis of the cause along with photographic evidence and an estimate of the repair costs. Following that, the next step is to collect paperwork from past chimney cleanings, inspections, and repairs, if you have them, to demonstrate to the insurance company that your chimney has been consistently maintained. After you have this information, you can move forward and file your claim. You do not have to wait until the insurance company accepts your claim to get your chimney fixed and the water damage repaired. You can move forward without them and receive reimbursement later by keeping all invoices and receipts.
Is it worth it to make a claim?
If the water damage is minor, and the cost is less than your deductible, it is not in your best interest to file the claim. Insurers in the U.S.A. are notorious for dropping homeowners after they file claims both large and small. Since the industry maintains a database of claims, it can be difficult to find another insurance company that will insure your home if you lose your current insurer. Before making a claim, it is a good idea to weight whether or not it is worth this risk.
Give us a call if you need to setup a chimney inspection! The inspection takes less than two hours. We provide inspections throughout Northwest Illinois, Northeast Iowa, and Southwest Wisconsin. Our expertise is not limited to masonry fireplaces. Our trained chimney experts also have expertise in inspecting wood stoves, factory-built fireplaces and other combustion heating systems. We will help you build a strong case or decide on your next steps.